MILESBURG - In our central Pennsylvania region during the summer time, baseball reigns as king of all sports.
Whether it's Little League, Legion ball or MLB, the coverage is endless, but with dozens of different leagues, how does a single team stand out from the rest?
Just win, baby.
And that's exactly what the Bald Eagle Teener League all-stars did, beating Lebanon City 6-0 for the state title.
You've heard it said before how winning is the ultimate remedy for all things on or off the field, but winning wasn't the issue with this team. BEA is use to success, but what makes this ball club unique is the heartbreak they've endured.
For all the glory and accolades Bald Eagle has received its walked away with an empty feeling for the past two state tournaments.
Not this year, though.
No, this team was different -this team struck gold.
Bald Eagle Manager John Greene knows pain of the past all too well. His squad had made it to the state championship game for two consecutive seasons before this year, but lost in both of them. And last year's game probably kept him up at night. His team was up 6-0 in the last inning only to get upended and once again had to settle for silver.
Well coach, you can rest easy now.
"It's surreal, it's unbelievable but this team is very good and they have a lot of talent. Something just told me that these kids were ready and they weren't going to be denied," Greene said. "This particular team's determination and will to win is outstanding. They're all winners and there was never a time where I doubted them because I just had that feeling that no matter what, they would always come out on top."
Oddly enough, Bald Eagle found itself in the same position they were last year, up six in the final inning, but there wasn't going to be a comeback this year.
Nate Cleaver made sure of that.
The soon-to-be junior at BEA threw a no-hitter in the shutout victory and along with a gold medal wrapped around his neck, he took home the state tournament MVP as well.
"To be honest, it didn't really hit me until we came back home and saw around 100 people here supporting us," Cleaver said. "Great game today; it was probably the best game I've ever pitched in my life. I also had a great defense backing me up and I wouldn't have been able to pitch a no-hitter if it wasn't for them but I know they're always there for me."
The young Cleaver made many people proud yesterday but his performance struck a stronger emotional chord with the assistant manager.
His father, Larry Cleaver.
"It's just a feeling that you can't even explain but this whole team is just an extra-special group of kids. They're a good group that's played with one another since Little League, and losing is never in their minds," Larry Cleaver said. "They are always able to dig deep and if one person struggles there's another there to pick it up. These are kids who play hard, work hard and they also never showed arrogance. They've done a good job of staying humble through everything."
While Nate Cleaver took care of business on the mound, Jordan Kobularcik did his thing at that plate. As a younger player on the team, Kobularcik stepped up in a big way and he was just glad to get the coaches and some of the older players that elusive state championship.
"I wasn't on the team last year, but I always kept myself updated with them so actually winning it all this year is great, considering the last two appearances in the final. We just came together, hit the ball and played great," Kobularcik said. "We had great coaches, too and they wanted it just as bad as we did. They give really good speeches to us and just keep us focused."
Now that a Teener League state championship is in the books, how about a PIAA title? Most of these kids will be playing high school ball and BEA is certainly hungry for another title.
"I certainly do think that team can win state and I've coached with Jim Gardner, the baseball coach at the high school, and I know he cares about these kids and he'll have them ready," Greene said.